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Again and again, kids join parents at the polls

November 4, 2008 |  3:49 pm

At the Venice Beach lifeguard station, the significance of today's election was not lost on Jay and Cosette Stark, who took their two young children with them to the voting booth, just a few steps from the Pacific Ocean.

Sean, 5, helped his father vote. Sofia, 10, assisted her mom. It was a scene similar to others played out at polling stations throughout the region. Again and again, parents took their children to vote.

"This is a historic election and we wanted to get them involved in the election process early," said Jay Stark. "So that it becomes part of their DNA of their civic life in Los Angeles and the United States. We sat down with them and explained all of the issues and read the measures with them because it’s a great opportunity to teach them about the issues of the 21st century."

The Starks, who live in Venice, allowed their children to cast their votes in the presidential election. They voted for Barack Obama. "Because he's nice," noted Sean. "Because I think he would be a good president," added Sofia, a fourth-grader. "What he’s saying is good for the world and he’ll be a good president."

Miles to the north, at an Altadena polling place, another teachable moment took place.

In contrast to the older voters in the crowd was Raquel Johnson, 8, who is in the third grade. She was there with her grandmother, Lorraine Hernandez, 54.

"She saw an incident that was upsetting," Hernandez said.

Raquel, holding a water bottle she would take later to school, explained: "It was when I was coming back from Chuck E. Cheese. There was a woman who had taken down an Obama sign and was getting into her car."

Hernandez wanted to counteract that image. "I felt it was important to bring her here this morning," she said. "I wanted her to see real voting."

-- Maria Elena Fernandez and David Colker